I did tai chi four times this morning, facing north and south and east and west at the start of each of the four iterations. During the second iteration of the form, and the third, I became disoriented (ha, a Latin pun!) about what was to come next. This meant that I had to stop and start each of those forms over again.
It’s funny. I’ve gotten so used to the orientation of the office that when I’m performing tai chi in the ‘wrong’ direction, I lose my place. That’s part of the reason I started practicing differently; I wanted to be able to change my orientation to the form a little more cleanly and without stressing about it. Mostly, that worked.
The other thing that happened during this morning’s practice: I fell. As in, I lose my balance and toppled over in a heap on the floor. It was not a very hard fall and I didn’t break or bruise anything. I was already low to the ground, too. It was during the second/South iteration of the tai chi form. I was trying to do the inward breath as an inverse breath — I was trying to do the whole form that way — and the combination of internal forces on my abdomen during the sinking-down or squat that happens at the start of Grab the Needle at the sea bottom completely unbalanced me. I haven’t had a fall like this in my practice in mor than a year.
It felt great.
My staff-spinning teacher said once, “if you’re not saying ow on a fairly regular basis, you’re not practicing.” And for all of my talk about tai chi, it’s not often the case that I’m challenged by my own body mechanics any more. Today I was, and it felt great.
Afterwards, I performed an extended Druidic meditation and other related work. And now it’s off to school.
I was sharing some time with a group, and I couldn’t find my place on the wall, as the wall wasn’t there and I was facing south instead of east! I’d not realised how awesome the balance of surround had become to my practice.
Glad you shared.
(I suffer from vertigo, one of the reasons to take up Tai Chi- , but I don’t quite get so excited about a fall. Must rethink that.)
If you’re a vertigo-sufferer, then maybe falls aren’t quite so interesting as hey are to me? For me, they’re evidence of overextension, and then trying to replicate what was overextended so I can figure out what’s going on. For you, maybe they’re the result of internal challenges? I don’t know.
The “field sense” that comes from doing tai chi facing in multiple directions has become an important part of my practice. My home office has a big space in the middle for doing tai chi. Yet the stuff around the edges does lead to specific types of modifications of the form. Each day I have to work with these changes in the shape of the room from furniture and accessories placements.
It makes me think. Sometime soon I may have to try orienting my practice to a corner at the start, and see how that shifts my mental structure around this. I usually face the center of a wall. But facing a corner could really throw me off. There’s also the reality that doing the form outside is way more effective than indoors.